Numbers swell at Knutsford Business Club
Lateness proved to be an unfashionable cause as the event was well stocked by Knutsford’s most recognised retailers and traders. The initial perception was that Brian Stuart’s Knutsford Business Club could prove to be a valuable resource for those wishing to connect and trade ideas in the hope that dialogue can be converted into tangible actions.
It was clear that there was no exacting agenda set by the organisers and although still new, signs of structure were beginning to form on the skeletal workings of the business club. With at least thirty or so people committed to bringing about change in the trading fortunes, hope exists for businesses wishing to come together in an attempt to make a difference in the future of retail and trade in Knutsford.
Positive commercial enthusiasm should not bypass the historical lessons that can be learned from previous trade groups that have attempted to unite local businesses. Maintenance of group unity is key to stability and the recognition of support that councils are able to offer through experience, exposure and funding are critical elements that require tight embrace over rejective comment. During the course of the evening a number of people stood and spoke of routes to action, one of which is the need to increase spend on media. This is not something that should be taken lightly especially as budgets for these exercises can deliver swift punishment to those less experienced in doing so or for those who miss the target too widely.
Further issues arose with the notion that the KBC was an exclusive inter-member trade exchange. Again, history shows that although initially buoyant, this almost clandestine trading methodology often runs dry of commerce quickly. In the past, this action has always led to despondency with the resultant effect being a steady crumbling of working groups.
Knutsford offers a unique experience for customers and clients and in these hard pressed times the “Knutsford Experience” needs bolstering. As Brian put it, “We need to find ways to fill our tills.” The obvious message here is to incentivise shoppers and entrants to the town. Schemes such as loyalty and discount cards for consumers have proved to work successfully but only when applied to a much wider geographic area. Consideration to the support mechanism needed to maintain it and regular campaigns to promote it requires focus and commitment.
Currently Patrick Cassidy’s knutsfood.co.uk offers an up-to-date electronic discount scheme that anyone can sign up for without fee or difficulty. His scheme was intended for restaurants & food outlets but more recently his has been able to grow the online scheme into other non-food business wishing to broadcast discounts to potential customers.
Parking issues, business rates and traffic problems are all weighty issues that require careful strategic planning and coordination to bring about change. These issues are currently being delt with by Tatton MP George Osborne and his newly formed Promote Knutsford action team led by Councillor David Lever.
Division in the town.
Sadly there is a clear divide between traders on which of the two networking groups should be joined. KT recently reported on Network Knutsford’s successful evening, which was further emphasised by Virtual Knutsford owner Len Thopmson (pictured below) who, after a few initial grumbles was inspired by the attendees and the potential open door for business at the Regent Street venue.
During his address at KBC he drew on the difference between the two groups, one is clearly a trade body with swelling numbers and the potential to reach consumers, the other being more of a business to business venue for new startups and existing commercial entities wishing to spread their commercial voice beyond Knutsford.
Former BNI (Business Networking Institute) Chairperson Steve McGuinness’s view on business networking is clear. ” When the right people get together and commit their energy to drive it, great things happen not just commercially but on a very personal level”. A degree of honesty, openness and creativity are factors in networking successfully especially in small arenas such as Knutsford.
Steve’s passion for energizing people was clear when he was elected Chairperson some four years ago. ” its a big commitment to run a successful group, and it takes a great deal of personal time and organisation,” commitment to his own business drove him to step down as Chair.
The cohesive energies that exist with the KBC should be directed towards customers and Knutsford needs a united front with regards to supporting trade. The KBC with its increasing numbers and committed members could easily carry the torch of success for everyone. Confusion needs to be dispelled by attending both groups and leaving any preconceptions at the door. The cross polination of ideas and support by members will drive success at both venues and help to strengthen all businesses in a united front in the war on recession which we all wish to win.